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Old 11-11-2012, 06:36 PM   #1
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Input & suggestions about Xbox and/or Nintendo 3DS?

I've been saving $1 and $5 bills since January and now have enough of a kitty (around $500) to treat my kids to new gaming stuff for Christmas. I've narrowed it down to either
  • Xbox 360 250gb with Kinect, plus a game or two
  • 3DS's (probably XL) for each of them, plus a game or two
Any advice or input on which might be better for two boys ages 9 and 7?

We already have a Wii and they each already have their own DSi consoles, one of which is having serious system-wide issues. I'm looking into sending it in to Nintendo for repair, but I'm not sure yet. They've been begging me for 3DS's since the 3DS's came out (the exclusive Mario stuff is a big draw for them), and they're also asking for a Wii U but I'm not interested in that. (I mean, wouldn't having a second screen split your focus rather than enhance a game experience? Anyway.)

They haven't asked for the Xbox at all but I'm considering it partly because my oldest really wants Minecraft and my youngest played something called Castle Crashers on an Xbox at his buddy's house and loved it.

But I don't quite know what the deal is with this Xbox Live thing I've read about. Is that a monthly subscription? Do you play online with others or is it something you can keep private? Is it required for some games (looks like it might be for Castle Crashers)?

I can't afford to get both systems, and even if I could I wouldn't. I really want to decide on just one. Any advice and/or input would be most welcome since I'm really out of my element here (I knew more about the Atari and ColecoVision than I currently do about game systems today)!

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for anything you can offer.
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:52 PM   #2
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I'd go for the 3DSs. But not the XLs, they are huge.
And you can spend the saved money more a few more games.

No idea what games there are anymore. Maybe someone can direct you to some games they can play against each other.
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:46 PM   #3
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This is a tough call. With two portables, you're going to have to buy them the same game twice. I don't know how good they are with sharing.

With an Xbox, they can play together without needing two copies of every game, and gaming on a television is more of a communal activity, IMO--you could sit with them and watch, etc.

The downside is that the Xbox Live community has some raging assholes and trolls, so if you intend to let your kids play online, you'll have to do some strict policing if you want to limit their exposure to that kind of stuff. But it could also be a good opportunity to teach them about crazies on the internet, being accountable for your behavior online, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moth View Post
They haven't asked for the Xbox at all but I'm considering it partly because my oldest really wants Minecraft and my youngest played something called Castle Crashers on an Xbox at his buddy's house and loved it.
An Xbox is going to be more entertaining for older kids, as the games are more oriented toward them (and, of course, adults). The games are also potentially cheaper, because there are a ton of great indie games available on Xbox Live Arcade (the online store).

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Originally Posted by moth View Post
But I don't quite know what the deal is with this Xbox Live thing I've read about. Is that a monthly subscription? Do you play online with others or is it something you can keep private? Is it required for some games (looks like it might be for Castle Crashers)?
Xbox Live is not required to play most games. You can buy a subscription for three months, one year, etc. It's around $40-$60 for a year's subscription to Xbox Live Gold, which is required to play online. (You can buy a prepaid subscription card, which is why you can sometimes find it cheaper on eBay, etc.) This will also allow you to connect to other services you already subscribe to, like Netflix, HBO Go, etc., and access them through the Xbox, making the Xbox act like a media PC.

You can set parental controls for the online stuff for your kids. There are lots of guides online about how to keep your kids safe when using Xbox Live.

Finally, Castle Crashers can be played in both local multiplayer--e.g., kids sitting on the same couch; does not require internet--and online multiplayer, which will set you up with other players online.

Castle Crashers is most fun in local multiplayer, IMO. The game is really simple and chaotic and makes for a good party atmosphere. You can have up to four players playing at once. It's a great family game in that regard.

Hope this helps!
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:41 PM   #4
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Thanks both of you -- very helpful!

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Originally Posted by WillSauger View Post
I'd go for the 3DSs. But not the XLs, they are huge.
Oh gadzooks, I thought the XL only meant the size of the top screen. Thanks for pointing this out, though now I feel kind of blind. It makes sense now why the XL is fifty bucks more.

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Originally Posted by leahzero View Post
This is a tough call. With two portables, you're going to have to buy them the same game twice.
Hehe, I've done this before...we have two Kirby Mass Attacks for that reason. (And also because I lucked into a 50%-off sale online last year, so I got both games for the price of one. ) In hindsight I wish I'd have also gotten 2 of Bowser's Inside Story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leahzero View Post
The downside is that the Xbox Live community has some raging assholes and trolls, so if you intend to let your kids play online, you'll have to do some strict policing if you want to limit their exposure to that kind of stuff. But it could also be a good opportunity to teach them about crazies on the internet, being accountable for your behavior online, etc.
Ack. So it is online with strangers, eh. (And of course trusted friends too, I know.) I already sit with the boys when they play the Wii and I often join in, so making game time a teachable opportunity would come really easily. But if I go the Xbox route I think I'd wait a while before buying a Live subscription.

Thanks also for that link -- educational and a great starting point.

Good info to know about Castle Crashers too. I was hoping it would work on its own without an internet requirement!

Lots to think about. Thanks again you guys!
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Old 11-14-2012, 04:17 PM   #5
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You might want to get them to play around with a 3DS in store if you can. It might be because I'm rapidly approaching old fart status, but I felt like throwing up after looking at the screen for thirty seconds.
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Old 11-16-2012, 06:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
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You might want to get them to play around with a 3DS in store if you can.
Thanks for your input! We've used those -- half the time I can't get the boys away from them. They've made spectacles of themselves on occasion, fighting over whose turn it was to go first and/or who had the longer turn.

(Times like that, I try to remember that before long I'll be facing teenager issues, and to relish these short-term problems while I can...)

Still have no idea which way I'm going to go though. I keep coming back to the same "yeah, but this"/"yeah, but that" points for and against each option.

I think, therefore I'm a circle.
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:33 AM   #7
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I know I'm a bit late, but I vote for the 3DS. It's backward compatible with the DS if I recall, which means a huge library of kid-friendly games (many of which you should be able to get really cheap used, nowadays). Plus, I'd think the portability would be a god-send for family trips.

Xbox Live is notorious for having one of the worst, most vitriolic, trollish communities around. Even with measures to protect your kids, I'd be worried about the exposure to such an environment during what should be fun gaming time.
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:32 AM   #8
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I love my 3DS XL, and recommend it strongly. Especially because, compared to the older model of 3DS, it has a VASTLY superior battery life. I cannot state this strongly enough: you want the nice new 3DS XL not because of the larger screen (which is nice), but because it's far far better at not draining the battery in a heartbeat.

In general, I'd recommend the DS over the Xbox for boys the age of your kids, though. There are certainly games for kids available on the Xbox, but that console is aimed (...er, no pun intended) much more towards the frat boy audience, if you judge it just by what covers the used shelves in game stores. Lots and lots of shooters. And a lot of those shooters assume you'll be spending a lot of time online, where the community is by and large absolutely vile.

I have a nephew a bit older than your kids who adores shooters on the Xbox beyond all reason. It's also a constant war to get him not to use racist and homophobic slurs casually. I don't blame the video games for it--it's in his peer group, too--but it certainly doesn't help that the online community is so much like that.

The DS games are a bit more aimed at kids in general; there's lots of stuff I enjoy playing as an adult, but if you're concerned about content, it's going to be much easier to find the New Game Everyone Talks About on the DS as one that's more appropriate for children. There's a wide variety available, since the platform's been out for so long, including even some little shooters and action games if they really have their hearts set on that.

The only reason I'd recommend the Xbox over the 3DS for the kids is if there are specific Xbox games you want to play yourself. Otherwise? Handhelds are a great way to go. The DS system is very solid, and you can find great used games for it--or just games a few years old, now available for $20 new in package--pretty much everywhere.
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:07 PM   #9
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Thanks fade and Satsya! I have to admit I'm leaning toward the 3DS's too. The more I learn about the Xbox (headsets?? they'd have to wear headsets?? forget that) the more my mom-radar pings "no way, they're too young."

It's also a huge help to get this objective input. Sometimes it's hard to tell what's a healthy mom outlook and what's an unhealthy overprotective "but it's my precious baby" gremlin sneaking in.

And thanks for the info about battery life on the XL...we've never really run into that problem with the DS's they have now (unless they leave it off the chargers overnight or more) but the 3DS ads make it sound like the battery life improvements are for both the regular and the XL.

I think I'm pretty much decided on the 3DS's then. Just have to decide XL or not, and which games. Mario of course...and Kirby if I can find any.

Sincere thanks again, everybody! It's incredibly helpful to hear first-hand experiences and informed opinions.
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:24 PM   #10
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I used to play XBox when I lived at home and I never played online - never saw the point and I don't think I missed out on anything. Lots of games don't have an online component and the ones that do, many of them don't need to be played online to enjoy them.

That being said, handhelds are probably better for younger kids - not only are there more kid-friendly games, it's easier on the hands - my hands used to cramp up because the controllers were a touch too big for me.

If I could afford an Xbox though, I'd probably buy one in a heartbeat. I miss my Nightmare Before Christmas game
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:15 AM   #11
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It's possible that there's a new model of 3DS, other than the XL, that has an improved battery life. That would make sense! I just wanted to warn you about the battery life on the old 3DS handhelds, especially in case you were buying them used. (I buy most of my consoles and games used.) Since the 3DS XL is the one that I have, I only know that one specifically, out of the new releases, to compare to older versions.
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